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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

FARMER OF THE EASTERN SLOPE              195

gave birth of quadruplets. It was a horrible story—both the mother
and the babies died. Such is God's retribution, and yet the people
are too ignorant to change their ways. When Tienlin hears of cases
of indigent expectant mothers in his neighbourhood, he usually runs
over to the family, and by giving the parents food and clothing is
able to save many babies' lives. After a baby is thus saved and is a
few days old, the parents refuse to give it away, even if some family
want to adopt it. This shows that parental love for one's child is
always there, but is blinded by custom.

"I hear that there is one Chin Kuangheng in your district who
has now passed the examinations and is a justice at Anchow. When
his mother was expecting him, the mother's brother dreamed of a
little infant tugging at his dress as if it wanted to say something to
him. He had the same dream again the following night and the
infant appeared importunate. Realising that his sister was going to
have a baby and perhaps did not welcome any more children, he
rushed to his sister's house just in time to find the water basin being
held ready. In this way Chin was saved and grew up. This is a
story well known to the people of your district.

"According to the kw, a man who wilfully kills his descendant
is punishable by two years' hard labour, and this is a law that the
county officials can act upon. I hope you will instruct the officials
of the different townships to call together the village elders and
, inform them about this law. They should be properly impressed
with the idea of retribution, and be told that this law is going to be
enforced; and they should go home and tell the other villagers. You
can have official bulletins posted on the walls to this effect, and offer
rewards to people who report such cases, the money to come from
the parent who commits such a crime and his neighbours in the
same paochia unit. If he is a tenant farmer, his landlord shall be
made responsible for it also. When a woman is expecting a child,
her neighbours and landlord ar£ bound to know about it. Therefore,
when an infant is killed, her neighbours are in a position to report
such a case, and it is fair to punish them if they fail to stop it. Tf
you will punish a few cases of offence as a warning to others, this
horrible custom can be stopped.

'^Furthermore, you should instruct your county officials to call
together the richer families and plead with them earnestly for help.
If the parents are really so poor that they cannot support their
children, they can be aided with money and gifts. A human being is
not devoid of feeling; he is not made of wood or rock, and will t^e
all too glad tp save his own child. If a parent can be prevented from
killing the baby in the first few days, after that, even if you ask him
to kill it, he can't do it. Do y6u realise how many lives you will